Sunday, June 7, 2009

Learning From The Masters

Back in the 1930s, one of the nations most prominent institutions of higher learning abandoned traditional educational orthodoxy and decided that learning from the source was a better alternative than textbooks.

St. Johns College in Annapolis MD and later also in Santa Fe NM took a radical step in implementing their "Great Books" program but the thesis of the program was that if you read the Masters then through discourse and thought, you as a student could have a clearer understanding of the matter at hand. For example, Euclid would be considered the source for Geometry and say Adam Smith for Economics. You learn by studying from the real source and then with true critique and thought apply it on your own. No textbooks or secondary sources were allowed. Interesting idea.

So what does this have to do with kettlebells? It turns out a lot. A year and one half ago I decided to attend a "certification" (still can't believe that they got away with calling it that) of a kettlebell business. The weekend was not conducive to learning. I didn't learn to design a workout program or for that matter teach any students what I was learning. If you can call it learning. My recollection is that my snatch got a bit better but that nothing else changed much. I was using a secondary source as the instructor; a former Pavel protege.

I was still convinced that I was onto something with kettlebells and I reached out to Delaine Ross,RKC and David Whitley, SRKC. Why not learn from the Master they both said? So instead of a watered down and seemingly misinterpreting secondary source I went to the RKC. Or the direct source for Kettlebell Strength and Conditioning. If you are looking to participate in kettlebell sport than the source would be AKC.

Now I am going to admit something that I've never publicly admitted before. The first certification was physically and mentally much easier than the RKC. When I heard about the RKC requirements my first thought was that it was insanity. I had to do how many snatches? The graduate workout? Yea right. But I wanted it badly and set off on a journey that I'm not sure has a end. The destination keeps changing and I like what I've seen so far on my trip.

But I digress. Why study from either Pavel Tsatsouline or Valery Fedorenko? Well why not? They are the two who introduced their time tested methods here in the United States. Do they have a monopoly on excellent kettlebell ideas? No, they don't but if you learn from the Masters than you can ultimately put your own indelible mark on the mastery you've acquired.

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At June 7, 2009 at 8:05 AM , Blogger Laura said...

Great post, Sandy. My purpose in seeking certification is to be able to teach others how to use kettlebells safely and effectively, and from everything I've read about the RKC certification process it will prepare me to do exactly that. Our conversation last weekend was very helpful in confirming what I already believed to be the case.

I have some familiarity with that first organization you mentioned--in fact, my first kettlebell experience was with an instructor who'd trained with that particular Pavel protege--and while it overall was a good experience I think in retrospect that most of what was good about it was what was true to RKC principles.

Happy birthday to Alex, by the way! I think you should post a pic of him wearing a Charm City Kettlebells t-shirt :)

At June 7, 2009 at 9:57 AM , Blogger Dave said...

Well put Sandy. I've always believed that if the masters are willing to talk, you would be stupid not to listen. And RKC has a great history of reaching across the lines to other masters, such as Brett Jones, Gray Cook, Mark Cheng, etc. to further develop its program.
And kudos to you or reaching out to Marty Gallagher. Once again, the masters know best.

At June 7, 2009 at 9:20 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Terrific post, Sandy!
Between your blog, Laura's and others, I'm starting to get a nice education about kettlebells..looking forward to actually working with one next week!


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